Monday, 6 February 2012

Brain Based Learning: Brain Breaks

I recently stumbled across the article "10 Brain-Based Learning Laws That Trump Traditional Education".    I found this article particularly thought provoking because it took myths about how students learn and turned them upside down.  Something that I found particularly interesting was the Eigth Law: "Shorter Trumps Longer".  This intrigued me right away because it explains that as adults we have an attention span of about 10 minutes.  After those 10 minutes are up our attention starts to drift away (I'm sure I'm not the only one who has trouble paying attention for the entirety of a University class).  If as adults our attention span is that short I can only imagine how short the attention span of our students must be. This law really highlights the importance of avoiding lecture type lessons and the benefit of including short "brain breaks" into our everyday teaching.

This law was actually something that I learned through teaching a science class during my internship.  During the beginning of the semester I found that on certain days when i was doing more talking and less "hands on learning" I was having issues with students not paying attention and disrupting the classroom.  At first I was angry at these students and was temped to simply remove them from the class.  However, I quickly realized that this issue was more my fault than the students.  To combat with this I started doing a quick brain break with the students every 20 minutes for the hour I was teaching them.  This was something that was fun for both the students and myself and really seemed to help keep their attention throughout future lessons.

What do you guys think? How important is it for us as educatorsto implement Brain Breaks in our lessons? How often should we use a Brain Break during a lesson/day? What kinds of Brain Breaks have you used in the past? How did they go?

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